DON’T Turn Your Holiday Gift Cards Into Miles

PlasticJungle.com, a website that allows people to sell gift cards, has a co-branded offering with United that allows you to turn your gift cards into miles.

Basically you’re (a) selling your gift cards and (b) using the proceeds to buy miles. And this ‘bundled transaction’ turns out to be a bad deal, because they’re selling miles at way too high a price.

Now they’re offering a 30% bonus on the miles you’ll receive when trading in gift cards. And it’s still a bad deal.

Here’s the website’s example of what you’ll get trading in gift cards:

This example has you paying 2.9 cents per mile. Even accounting for gift cards being worth less than cash, that’s a bad price for miles.

United’s coming devaluation on February 1 makes this an even worse deal.

You’re generally better off selling your gift cards online and using the proceeds to buy miles when there’s a bonus for doing so, and especially with another airline that sells miles — often for less than 2 cents and even for 1.5 cents per mile (such as Avianca’s LifeMiles, another Star Alliance member, regularly offers).

Here’s the limited-case in which it could make sense to turn gift cards into miles:

  1. If you have no use whatsoever for the card, you won’t shop at the merchant that it’s for. AND:
  2. If the amount of the gift card is too small for you that you wouldn’t otherwise bother selling the card.

Even if you have unwanted gift cards after the holidays, don’t make the mistake of falling for this offer.


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Earlier this month, Costco was selling dickeys BBQ gc’s for 40% off. No limit. Seems you could have bought a stack of these and then redeem for miles which would be like buying miles at 1.75 cpm which is pretty good for ua miles.

    Of course, that promo is over now. And I value my BBQ!

    But if you can buy the GC way below par, this can be a decent deal.

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